Saturday, March 19, 2011

Extent of ADDA's Losses "Shocking"

The Association of Deputy District Attorney's was mentioned in both Los Angeles's legal newspapers Friday March 18, 2011, in connection with the loss of a lawsuit; Burke v. Ipsen, reported at 189 Cal.App.4th 801.

The Los Angeles Daily Journal published brief details of the loss of an appeal by the ADDA of Judge Chalfant's trial court ruling, quoting ADDA President Hyatt Seligman comment that the $100,000 loss was "a hurdle, but we'll overcome it."

But while the Daily Journal article was short on details, the Los Angeles Metropolitan News Enterprise article revealed the full extent of what some might say are shocking details of this case.

The ADDA had appealed Judge Chalfant's original ruling that the ADDA had "violated the California Corporations Code and its own bylaws." ADDA member Peter Burke brought the lawsuit to challenge what he believed to be unlawful changes to the ADDA bylaws and its failure to hold an election. Judge Chalfant agreed with Burke after trial, and issued a writ of mandate ordering the union to hold an election for its board and declaring the amended bylaws were invalid. Additionally, Judge Chalfant awarded Burke costs believed to be in the region of $60,000.

Having lost at trial and being saddled with paying Burke's legal fees (as well as the ADDA's own legal fees) the ADDA decided to appeal Judge Chalfant's ruling. No explanation was given as to the legal theory behind the ADDA's decision to appeal the ruling, leading some to speculate that the ADDA was simply gambling on Burke not having the resources or stamina to fight the appeal.

If it was a gamble, it was a bad one, perhaps even a reckless one. In the absence of any clear statement from President Seligman, one can only assume that the costs of the original trial and the appeal all have to be paid by members' dues - $160,000 in Burke's legal fees, and the unknown costs of the ADDA's own attorneys.

The Met News reported that "the ADDA had collected approximately $20,000 a month in dues, over a two year period, while the case was pending." However, Judge Chalfant noted that the ADDA had introduced “no evidence of what’s been done with that money.”

ADDA President Hyatt Seligman told the Met News that 'he was “extremely disappointed” with Chalfant’s ruling yesterday, but vowed: “We’ll overcome this, no matter what happens to our finances.” He said the union will “have to seek an alternative remedy,” but declined to elaborate on how that will occur.'

Despite the tone of President Seligman's statement, the lack of detail must be troubling especially as he plans to go forward with an Agency Shop where all 700 Deputy District Attorneys in grades I through IV will each be forced to give the ADDA $900 a year; that's a total of $630,000 a year.  Perhaps that is the "alternative remedy" of which he speaks?

There can be little doubt that many will see the loss of this lawsuit and appeal as a costly, even reckless, mistake. It is notable that President Seligman apparently even failed to properly introduce an affidavit opposing the award of attorney fees, the Met News reporting that President "Seligman had submitted an affidavit containing his allegations in opposing Burke’s request for attorney fees, but [Judge] Chalfant said he could not consider the document since it was not properly before him."

Not properly before him? That's also quite a mistake.

As always, the Los Angeles Dragnet will be happy to publish President Seligman's response.


Anonymous said...

There will be no response from Seligman, per usual. The ADDA is officially done. Over. There will not even be an agency shop vote now--- even the idiots on the ADDA board are bright enough to know they'd get blown out of the water.

“no evidence of what’s been done with that money.” per the Judge regarding the monthly ADDA dues? That's shocking. Now we see why Doug Sheridan quit like half a second after being elected Treasurer. He saw stuff that he wanted nothing to do with, and hit the eject button.

Anonymous said...

How is it that President of the ADDA screwed up with his affidavit? The judge said "he could not consider it because it was not properly before him." WTF does that mean? Sounds like Seligman is too busy to file a simple document with the court properly, or he didn't understand the rules or something.

And what has he done with all the union money? Nearly half a million dollars in the two years that he and Ipsen were taking money from DDAs on a promise of pay raises and other bs promises.

You know what Mr. President - you can take your Agency Shop and shove it where the sun don't shine!

Anonymous said...

"Seligman had submitted an affidavit containing his allegations in opposing Burke’s request for attorney fees, but [Judge] Chalfant said he could not consider the document since it was not properly before him."

It sounds like that's the judge's way of saying Seligman's affidavit was irrelevant and immaterial. Most likely the time for testimony had passed and Seligman's affidavit was just an attempt to re-open the case with a bunch of the usual bitter venom that spews out of these people's mouths anytime anyone says anything against them.

So the union doesn't follow it's own rules and anyone who says that's wrong is anti-union etc. etc. How about being pro-defending the rights of DDAs but anti bankrolling a cover-up of mismanagement and incompetence of epic proportions?

When this story reaches the 700 DDAs on Monday, there better be a response from President Seligman with some real answers and not a bunch of the usual anti administration rhetoric.

I also note that the Met News says the 'federal lawsuit' that the union keeps on bragging about is still before Judge Otis D. Wright II of the Central District of California, so it's far from a done deal. What's the exit strategy if that goes the same way as this case? Have you squandered all our money on another looser?

And what's with the special appearance of the ADDA's attorney Helen Schwab? When we hear that an attorney is making a special appearance it usually means the defendant hasn't paid the retainer yet. Is that what's going on here? Where's our money Mr. President?

Anonymous said...

During these troubled times, the response of the union members should not be to toss their hands in the air and say "the ADDA is officially done." The problem is that members get so sick of the antics of the board that they get disgusted and walk off. The response SHOULD be to demand more accountability and sunlight from the board.
The judge was right, the ADDA collects a ton of money and no one knows how or why it's spent. Certainly not in communicating to members. And who lets them get away with that? The members.

Anonymous said...

11:51 - How do you propose demanding more from a bunch of f'd up misfits? Didn't they appoint Ipsen to be the treasurer after Sheridan quit? There's a fundamental problem with the way these a'holes think, and no amount of appealing to them will change that. They need to be removed en masse. I suggest all DDAs with any sense of outrage at the way these fools have wasted our money, immediately demand their resignation. Seligman should do the honorable thing and resign without even being asked considering this disaster took place on his watch, but he's too much in love with the sound of his own voice and love calling himself Presidente.

Anonymous said...

Okay here's a problem. The DJ story says that Helen Schwab from Green and Shinee represented the ADDA. But the Appellate reports say that Monforton was the lawyer. Then the in earlier articles some guy named Salute is listed as the lawyer. Why are these guys juggling lawyers and who the heck is supervising the litigation? It's starting to look like a last day hand-off no one has the brains to settle.

Anonymous said...

This is precisely why the Seligman and Ipsen and many of the ADDA board cannot stand this blog, or any other communications concerning the ADDA that they cannot control.

If it had not been for the Dragnet we would have no idea what was going on and simply have to rely on Seligman's ridiculous statements about "seeking an alternate remedy."

Given that Seligman has not posted any comment at all, it is reasonable to conclude that the only alternate remedy is to screw the DDAs for more money to cover up his mistakes.

11:24pm makes a very good point about the numerous lawyers, and perhaps the answer is that they keep changing lawyers because the previous one told them something they did not want to hear, like "you have no case" or "you are throwing good money after bad."

Add all this together and it's easy to see why the ADDA Treasurer has resigned. I just wish he would give his reasons so that everyone else could assess the seriousness of the situation fairly. It's time for a little transparency here, and Seligman, don't tell me that you cannot communicate through the ADDA website, or that you have to use Lotus Notes and the administration won't let you. Dragnet published your last communication, and you know there's a growing number of DDAs who read this. You owe us an explanation.

Anonymous said...

The website lists (if you count both the board of directors and the officers) over 20 people running this outfit. With all the those people holding posts can't at least ONE PERSON be the guy in charge of making sure the members don't need Daily Journal subscriptions to figure out what the hell is going on?

Anonymous said...

Bobby Grace will probably be the next ADDA board member to resign as he's running for DA. That's a pity because he's one of the few decent people on the ADDA.

Anonymous said...

Berger blogging to himself again. Ugh...

Anonymous said...

8:44 - is that the best you can do? A typical ADDA whack-job response is a threat to the person making the anti-ADDA comment, rather than any constructive criticism or response.

Do please keep up the attacks on Berger or "Windscale" because every time you people do that, it just goes to prove the point that the current ADDA leadership is a poisonous bunch of malcontents who are doing a huge disservice to the DDAs.

Hey, and why don't you tell us how that Agency Shop thing is going for you?

Anonymous said...

Hey 8:44am : you guys haven’t updated your website since before the last congressional election, your newsletter comes around only during eclipses, and your emails were such indecipherable screeds that most of us shit-canned them as spam. Instead of attacking Berger, why don’t ask him to help you getting info to DDAs. Based what I heard walking down the hall today, his blog must be getting loads of DDA traffic.

Anonymous said...

1:12pm - Seligman and his inner circle on the ADDA board DO NOT WANT any real information to get out.

It's probably real bad - over $160k hard debt to pay the losses from the Burke lawsuit, not including their own legal fees, and no accounting of how they've spent half a million in members dues since they started the persecution of Peter Burke.

There are a few good people on the board, but they are too scared to speak out against Seligman and Ipsen.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men (and women) do (and say) nothing." Edmund Burke